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Yuto Fukushima (2011-2012 Graduate) went on to University of Toronto

When I entered Columbia two and a half years ago, I was a shy boy who couldn’t speak English very well, and I was afraid of talking to people. Even though I was born in Japan, I grew up and studied in Shanghai, China for the first fifteen years of my life. Because of that, my native language was Mandarin, and I could speak very little Japanese and English. In the first month of my high school life, I could hardly understand what was being discussed in my classes, and I didn’t have any friends because I couldn’t speak either Japanese nor English fluently. However, the challenge did not overwhelm me.

In order to keep up with the classes, I prepared the next day’s lessons every night; asked teachers questions after school; and took language courses outside of the school. At the same time, I actively become involved in activities. For example, I joined the basketball team, and made many friends; and practiced both Japanese and English by communicating with my schoolmates. As a result of my effort, I could speak English and Japanese besides Mandarin, and I made a lot of friends at the school. I learned in the process that there is no fear of challenge as long as I make strenuous attempts to overcome it.

In the end, I really want to thank all the teachers, staff and classmates for giving me such a wonderful high school life.

Chiharu Iida (2011-2012 Graduate) went on to Waseda University

My school life at Columbia International School has not only improved my English skills, but also my social and skills. Overall, I strongly believe that choosing to enter Columbia was the best decision of my life. Through the thorough supports of my teachers and friends, my English skills improved extensively, covering the whole area such as writing, speaking, reading and listening. Also, one of the best things of Columbia is its high level academic curriculum. Columbia’s curriculum, especially in grade 12th, was as like taking an advance university course. The classes that mainly focus on critical thinking, self-expression and discussions sophisticated my academic and social skills. I am now able to write 2500 word essays about international issues by reading academic level resources, with clear structure and correct bibliography, able to hold a presentation about various kind of subjects, and able to make my arguments in a discussion instantaneously. All of these skills helped me obtain over 100 point score in TOEFL, and to be accepted to one of the country’s highest level universities.

Unlike ordinary Japanese schools, Columbia’s provide practical skills that will be useful in my future university and business career. While Japan’s curriculum focus more on memorizing facts. Columbia’s curriculum enhanced my presentations, organization, critical thinking, analysis, and developed my skills. I confidently believe I now have the ability to meet the challenges I will face throughout my entire life. Also, Columbia’s 4U classes prepared me to take advanced university courses. I found that Columbia taught learning skills that would not be taught at Japanese schools, basic skills such as how to take notes and organize them effectively, to more specific but significant skills needed in the modern world such as the ability to analyze world politics, relations, and issues. I am now capable of discussing, reading, and writing about variety of high level academic topics.

My teachers and friends and everybody at Columbia International School have supported my academic and social growth since I entered the school. I am now able to communicate and even argue in English. Through the courses at Columbia, I learned how to express and share my ideas with others. If it was not for Columbia, my academic and social skills would never have reached the current level.

Shiei Lai (2010-2011 Graduate) went on to San Francisco State University

I came to Columbia International School one and a half years ago. At first, I worried about whether I could enjoy my school life here because I was a transfer student. But as time went on, I gradually acclimated to this new place; I learned how to study for tests, write an essay, express my opinions, and also build good relationships with all students and teachers at Columbia. I really enjoyed my high school life though I had never gotten this feeling in the school I attended before Columbia. I think the reason is that Columbia is an unrestrictive school that all students can easily optimize individuality and uniqueness. I felt there are so many unique people in this school and many of them can be leaders in the future. People speak out their own ideas without fear to their classmates and even to their teachers. On the other hand, because the school doesn’t intervene often, we need to have responsibility to do our assignments on our own. In a normal Japanese school, teachers will tell you an answer quickly when you ask them, however, in Columbia we need to work out answers by ourselves; they just give us hints.

It was hard at first, but once I got used to it, I really enjoyed learning because I liked the feeling of accomplishment when I finished my work or got good marks. Honestly there were so many things I learned at Columbia more than at other schools. I will remember what I learned at Columbia and keep working hard for my future.

I believe people who make an effort can get what they want someday. So everyone work hard!

Mika Takita (2010-2011 Graduate) Went on to Temple University Japan

The past six years I spent at junior high and high school felt long but looking back it felt short at the end. We have gotten a great education here, which was a stepping stone on our way to success and promotion to the future. I think we, the students, agree that high school has been great. However, I know more than anything we are proud to be from Columbia and very proud to be graduating from our high school. There were lots of challenges and issues but we could get over these obstacles with support from friends, our families, and the teachers. There are lessons for everyone in how Columbia has brought us up, treated us, educated us and given us respect for ourselves, and each other.

I learned a lot of things from this school, which are; the importance of goal setting, taking responsibility for myself and my actions, overcoming obstacles, and much more. Therefore, when the teacher is lecturing in class, the teacher is trying to put things together for us like making connections, giving background information and examples, or even giving different interpretations or criticisms of the content.

For the future I would say keep learning and believe you can achieve, and never forget your roots and the people who have helped you. I hope that each student stays positive.

Momo Bando (2008-2009 Graduate) Went on to Alberta College of Art and Design Canada

My life in CIS (Columbia International School) was the best compared to the other schools I have attended and experienced. I had travelled back and forth from Hong Kong to Japan numerous times since I was little and as a result experienced many schools, and I feel that the memories I have from CIS are something worth remembering. I appreciated the teachers and staff, who cared about students when we had our ups and down in life and school. We were all one big family in school who helped, taught and shared with our peers and teachers our memories and learning experiences that helped us mature and taught us a lot. I enjoyed my two-hour journey from my station to the Higashi-Tokorozawa station, as well as the walk to school. After school, sport clubs were the best moments of my day, especially floor hockey. I will never forget about the intense competition we brought to the game but at the end of the day, we were all having fun as one team.

After graduating CIS, I moved to Canada to a small city called Calgary in Alberta. I am currently in my senior year in a 4-year program at the Alberta College of Art and Design. In relation to the experiences in CIS, the classes that the school provided helped me build an understanding and a variety of knowledge that supported me and helped me understand my expectations in college. Writing was the key element in my current college. To be able to know how to cite and write in an expected format was highly valuable as I was prepared for it because of the CIS teachers that were strictly teaching students based on essay writing.

Overall, I have no dislikes against CIS. I believe that any schools we attend will have our good and bad times but Columbia International School is a school any student who has not experienced it, should, because they won’t regret it. I never regretted it.

Daia Koyano (2007-2008 Graduate) Camosun College, BC, Canada

Since I was an elementary school kid, it had been one of my dreams to study abroad and speak fluent English like a native. Moreover, working professionally in foreign countries had been my longing for many years. My parents are pure Japanese and our family had never lived outside of our country. When I started going to CIS (Columbia International School) at the age of 12, my English level was pretty much close to zero.

Today, I am 23 years old, living in Canada by myself, and working. My dreams have come true! When I look back on my life, the experiences I had at CIS definitely helped me getting over many difficulties I faced, especially at the college I graduated from in Canada.

I majored in Sports Management at Camosun College in Victoria, BC. On the first day at the orientation, I was shocked to see I was the only Asian, plus the only international student, except the one from Germany, in the program. I was really shy and having a hard time expressing myself for the first couple of months. Anyways, I worked really hard on my studies to catch up with everyone. Later on, my classmates and instructors started to accept me, and I was able to start making some friends through sports. It is very scary to think what it would have been like if I hadn’t been educated at CIS. I have no doubt that the loads of study skills I acquired at CIS were really helpful. I would say that the academics at colleges and universities are much harder. Especially, if you are thinking to study abroad, you should definitely work hard at CIS to get ready for the future!

Here are my three tips of how to become a successful student at CIS: 1- keep asking teachers questions until you get it, 2- manage your time effectively, and 3- just do it (you will never gain anything unless you try)! Trust me, even if your work is not perfect, your efforts will be worth it in the end. These principles totally applied to my life at the college as well. I think that CIS gives you a great opportunity to learn English, so please don’t waste your time, and remind yourself that not everyone can have such a great academic experience. You will be one of the lucky girls or boys once you get into this school. At least, I feel that way!

Marika Yamaura (2006-2007 Graduate) went on to Queen's University

I clearly remember my first step into this school, full of hope and a little worry. I cannot believe that was only two years ago. Time flies by! The last two years have been irreplaceable for me. Having fun with my friends, school trips with everyone, and enjoyable but hard classes… these are my unforgettable experiences in CIS. My motives for choosing CIS were to learn English and make my dreams come true. However, sometimes people feel lost without having dreams. Even if you don’t have dreams now, that’s OK because you will find something important through your CIS life! Here’s a tip for you to have an awesome time in this school. If you want to find something, you have to be active and work hard. Please work hard! Just try your best.

Your teachers will see your hard work, and they’ll give you more chances. Please take chances to better yourself. One of the teachers said to me, “Keep working hard and you will succeed at anything”. This word remains in my mind and gives me power. We’ve got such nice teachers here! As you go through school life, you must feel something in your heart which words cannot describe, but gives you satisfaction.

That’s the irreplaceable thing which you’ll get at CIS. Here is the place for you to find your new self.

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